Staffed by native East Bay trail explorers and expert riding instructors, Bella Oaks Stables fosters trained and fulfilling relationships between horses and their enthusiasts. Nestled among towering oak trees and gentle rolling hills, the fleet of majestic equines tote riders through lessons, community field trips, and trail rides, all under the guidance of a doting congregation of caretakers and volunteers. Seventeen summer camps for all ages and an apprenticeship program for more advanced riders instill saddle savvy in patrons of any experience level, and those pining for nature can meander through 80 miles of lush scenery and 1 mile of sci-fi-movie scenery for an afternoon trail ride.
For more than three decades, ABC Tree Farms have provided the Bay Area with seasonal fun October through December. Summer inspires the first round of recreation in the form of Summer Fun Zones packed with inflatable bounce houses masquerading as castles and slides and fresh harvests of local cherries, peaches, melons, and other fruits. During October, they run 20 pumpkin-themed locations, some of which also feature inflatable bounce houses and other attractions. Once Thanksgiving passes, groves of Christmas trees spring up, having made their way south from Oregon and Washington. There they will stand until Christmas Eve, hoping to decorate homes or become the model that inspires a revamped line of evergreen air fresheners.
Across nearly three-fourths of the United States, AMF Bowling Co. reverberates year-round as families, friends, and competitors send bowling balls in search of upright pins careening down slick lanes. The company first established itself as an industry leader in 1946, the same year the sport introduced automated pinspotters.
Today, more than 20 million bowlers annually make AMF their battleground for wars against pins. As the largest owner and and operator of bowling centers in the US, AMF locations offer high-tech scoring technology, a classic design, and a menu stocked with American-inspired classics such as wings, pizzas, burgers, and beer.
As the father of a 2-year old, Tim Alley found himself running around to playdates scattered throughout the Bay Area, scooting to toddler-friendly lessons in art, gymnastics, and dance. While he loved the programming, he wished that he and his daughter weren't confined to such a tight schedule. So, he turned to his brother-in-law, Tom Limbert, head teacher at a local preschool, and they began to work on their own children's studio at Studio Grow—a supplementary preschool atmosphere with a focus on unstructured learning where children can play throughout the day. True to its name, Studio Grow now welcomes tots at three area studios. Though programs and amenities vary by location, kids might frolic through a color-splashed dance room, construct crafty masterpieces from watercolors, play-doh, and crayons in an art room, or plunge into ball pits. At all three locations, kids can tinker in a room filled with puzzles, toy trucks, dress-up clothes, and lego building sets. in a slide-filled run room. Instructors stay on hand throughout each romp, ready to lead Berkeley guests through sing-alongs or immerse Concord’s small listeners in story time. Teachers may also balloon a giant primary-colored parachute over the playroom for kids to scurry under and use to shield themselves from sudden broccoli storms. Though staffers emphasize unstructured play, they also lead summer camps for children up to aged 6 with guided romps through the studio; as well as Friday-night babysitting sessions, where kids of all ages can play sans parents until 10 p.m.
Blanketed in wall-to-wall trampolines, Sky High Sports delights barefoot fun seekers with springy terrain and an exclusive court for jumpers aged 8 and younger. Guests can hone front flips, backflips, and belly flops during intense free-bounce sessions. Each trampoline comes equipped with a specially designed spring-loaded frame and thick 2-inch safety pads that grant patrons a landing cushier than a corner office at a marshmallow factory. Stuffed with blocks of spongy, body-molding material, a foam pit dares treasure seekers to fling themselves in or scour its depths for the lost contents of bygone pockets. Pintsize aerialist posses can safely practice their synchronized salchows on 360 degrees of trampoline walls while court supervisors watch from the sidelines and award hard-earned praise with oversize scorecards. Sky High also offers AIRobics fitness classes to help jumpers explore the outermost stratospheres of trampoline possibilities.
On the winding dirt trails that snake through Mount Diablo?s nearly untouched terrain, the sound of cars disappears, and riders can imagine they have been transported back to the 18th century. Nestled in the mountain?s foothills, a 20-stall horse ranch and equestrian center teaches fledgling equestrians the art of trotting down those trails. Arabians expert Nancy Dupont has spent more than four decades presiding over Castle Rock Arabians, where instructors boast accreditation with the Certified Horsemanship Association and many of them have claimed championship titles.
The center?s lessons welcome children as young as 2 to join a Tiny Riders program, whereas older pupils who have conquered the basics can learn advanced techniques, such as jumping through bank-vault walls. In addition to hosting classes and trail rides for students, the center organizes camps and hosts parties for birthday celebrants or pegasi celebrating the sprouting of their wings.